tv Morning Joe MSNBC May 10, 2017 3:00am-6:01am PDT
>> i have to reason to believe -- i haven't asked him. i have not asked the president since the last time we spoke about this. >> the last time you spoke about it you said he did have confidence. >> in light of what you're telling me, i don't want to speak on behalf of the president. >> all these individuals report to the president. why did the president wait? did he defer in his duties as a leader of this country by waiting this many months? >> not at all. the deputy attorney general is a person whom the fbi director reports to. >> he reports to the president. >> the deputy attorney general was confirmed by the senate 14 days ago, made that recommendation, forwarded it to the attorney general. that recommendation came today. the president acted decisively to take them up and concur with the recommendation. >> fbi director james comey overseeing the investigation surrounding trump associates and the kremlin now fired by the president. the extraordinary move coming with no advanced warning to the
wider department of justice nor apparently a heads up to the president's own communications team. were the reasons behind the firing different from the reasons given for the firing. that's one of the many questions we have this morning. welcome to "morning joe." it's wednesday, may 10th. with us veteran columnist and msnbc contributor mike barnicle, senior politics reporterality "usa today" heidi priz bella, and msnbc's mark halperin. "new york times" reporter michael schmitt and columnist and associate editor for "the washington post" david ignatius. >> looking at some of the headlines, this is just "the washington post," trump fires fbi director, "the new york times" "trump fires comey amid russian inquiry." "the boston globe," "trump fires comey in the midst of the
russian probe." "usa today," "trump fires fbi director comey." it's one of those days we all will remember for a very long time. you cannot overste, fst of all, the seriousness of what he has done, the challenge it poses to our constitutional system and the challenge it poses for the republican party. are they going to allow a lifelong democrat destroy the par stay from top to bottom, or are they going to stand up to this president and actually going to do what our founding fathers wanted him to do and present a system of checks and balances, an outrageous act yesterday, but we have a lot to get to. >> we'll start at the beginning. the white house issued a statement saying president trump acted on the recommendation of attorney general jeff sessions and his deputy rod rosen stein.
in a letter rosen stein hammered comey's conduct during the 2016 presidential election and investigation around hillary clinton's e-mail server. rosen stein called it a, quote, textbook example of what federal agents and prosecutors are taught not to do. as jeffrey toobin pointed out, trump saw fit to fire comey for the very things he praised him for in 2016. >> it took guts for director comey to make the move he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. you know that. >> i respect the fact that director comey was able to come back after what he did. >> what he did, he brought back his reputation. he's got to hang tough because
there's a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. >> he's become more famous than me. >> in his letter rosenstein made no mention of anything having to do with the current investigation into russian contacts with trump associates -- >> the president took care of that himself. >> president trump made that mention himself, including a glaring paragraph in his own letter to comey. it reads in part, quote, while i greatly appreciate you for informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. >> so many republicans, willie, jumping out on that line, justin
amish saying that was a bizarre sentence. richard burr coming out being critical. as justin said, an absolutely bizarre statement for this bizarre president to make. >> i think it's another case of donald trump not being able to help himself, to give himself a compliment in a statement he makes. in this case it might implicate him. so many preposterous things about the letter, number one that donald trump and the white house are -- jeff sessions saying the same things in november about jim comey, and also the idea that president trump would be convinced by a deputy attorney general who was sworn in two weeks ago, a guy he barely knows, that this guy came to him, said to president trump, you've got to do this. >> for doing the very things that trump repeatedly praised him for. it was about as bizarre as the fact that jeff sessions, the
attorney general, who signed the letter, to get rid of comey actually promised to recuse himself from any investigations into russian. >> that's not recusing yourself. that's getting involved, isn't it? >> mark halperin, this is absolutely stunning. i know you've been critical in the past of james comey. i think it was bill krystal who said one can disagree with the way comey conducted himself during the campaign and still be deeply disturbed by the actions yesterday. >> as you said, this is grave and serious and lots to talk about. let's focus on the russia probe? who is in charge the probe today? rod rosen stein, a career prosecutor who lots of democrats praised. andrew mccabe, the acting fbi director who has a reputation of not being partisan, and the
career prosecutors and fbi agents. i think the thing the president needs to do, he's got to talk about this himself, this is not the kind of decision you can make and delegate to sean spicer or a piece of paper. two, he's got to pick somebody to run the fbi who is beyond reproach and do it quickly. in terms of timing, the question i have is why not wait until you have a stellar, sterling person lined up. why the urgency? >> because sally yates testified yesterday and this guy, david ignatius, will blow himself up and his white house and the constitution of the united states because he's a day trader who doesn't like bad headlines. that's my opinion, not your opinion, but it's pretty shocking. i ask you to go back in all your years covering the government to find a decision anymore shocking than this. >> this is one we'll remember where we were when we heard it.
it had that kind of impact. the truth is, joe, i don't know why they did this. it was done in a rush clearly. it was all put together yesterday. comey wasn't even in town. he was surprised by the announcement. i'm ld i talking to my fbi sources that back during the transition, there was talk about getting rid of comey. they didn't like comey, they mistrusted him. the decision was this is more trouble than we need. the peculiar thing is, as angry as democrats were at comey after the way he handled the hillary clinton e-mail issue. hillary clinton clearly blames comey for her defeat, he had come to be a symbol of putting trust and integrity back in the fbi through the russia investigation. it's strange that the democrats who were so angry at him are now
furious at his firing. i'm told finally that last night, among fbi agents, including those who really didn't like comey, he was a very divisive figure within the fbi. we should be clear about that. even among his critics last night, there was a sense of confusion, people genuinely upset, wondering what had happened. i think you have to say the situation for the next fbi director who comes in is going to be extraordinarily difficult in maintaining a sense of balance and fairness in that agency which is now quite sharply split. >> so james comey had been set to testify thursday in open session in front of the senate intelligence committee. last night while in los angeles he was set to give a speech, but it never happened because, as michael schmitt reports in "the new york times," quote, mr. comey was addressing a group of fbi employees in los angeles when a television in the background flashed the news that he had been fired.
in response, mr. comey laughed saying he thought it was a fairly funny prank, but then his staff started scurrying around in the background and told mr. comey that he should step into a nearby office. mr. comey stopped addressing the group, proceeded to shake hands with the employees he had been speaking to and then he stepped into that side office where he confirmed that he had been fired. at that point he had not heard from the white house. comey got into a moat cade and made his way to the airport snarled in l.a. traffic before boarding a private jet and heading back to washington. former's head of private security and now director of oval office operations keith schiller hand delivered the termination notice to the department of justice. michael schmitt, your reporting is amazing. what else do you know? >> comey started his day yesterday in florida where he was speaking to some police
officers. he flew out to california where he was supposed to actually, as you pointed out, give this diversity speech. all this came as a complete shock at the fbi. they had no idea the justice department had been working on this for several days, it dated back to at least last week and probably sooner than that, and there was actually some question last night how comey was actually going to get home from los angeles because he was no longer the fbi director and it wasn't clear whether he should still use the government plane to get home. ultimately he does get on that plane and he does come back. it's not clear whether he even went into the bureau last night after he got here to pick up his stuff or anything like that. today at the fbi it's a brand new day. the real question is whether the scrutiny of this firing will be able to stand up. will the administration be able to make the case to the public and to congress as the spotlight is put on this that there was a
real rationale for doing this and this was not simply done on the whims of the president. >> not only is this dangerous and outside the constitution, but the white house itself outside of trump were caught off guard. showing how little they know about politics in washington, they were shocked by the blowback they got. >> this is all going to come down to the timing. why now? all the justifications given in this letter are things that have been known for months. if trump was so incensed which is really hard to believe considering the "lock her up" mantra, he could have fired, they wanted a clean start, why not fire comey in january? there was an active ig action under way, no precedent for making a firing like this, without that coming to
conclusion. to your point, this is like there was some kind of urgency to this, the way it was done. it was so ham-handed, no one in place to replace him. >> willie, bad headline, sally yates. he reaches and talks about barack obama tapping his white house. again, this is the definition of a day trader, like a day trader on crack. >> i think it's more than that. >> political crack where this was so shortsighted for him not to know this was going to blow up in his face politically suggests something deeply troubling about him and the people around him. >> the irony of it is, by firing james comey, he may have guaranteed himself an independent investigation, guaranteed a special prosecutors. >> just like the obama tweet, by lying about the 44th president, he then put six, eight more
weeks of intense focus on his side of it. >> by the way, has now unleashed jim comey as private citizens are free to discuss this with people like the media. >> he did one other thing, too, yesterday. this is no longer about donald trump, no longer about james. it's about the presidency which is being diminished on a daily basis by his behavior. it's about the constitution. it's about the united states of america and the people of this country. that's what this is about. >> the question is, mika, i will say it again, are the republicans, especially in the senate, going to attach themselves to a guy who had been a democrat for life, came in, blew up their party, had a hostile takeover of their party and now is going to drag the party down? i can't even imagine running in
2018 if i'm a house member anywhere that's remotely a swing district. this reminds me in a different way of 2005. you knew nancy pelosi was going to ba speaker. i had a friend ask me, i've been thinking about running for congress tore ten years, should i run? no. the tidal wave is ugly. >> clearly, after all the talk is done, all the verbiage has been piled on all this, jim comey is no longer the fbi director because the president of the united states new instinctively he could not control him. >> this is donald trump, a man who has never had any checks and balances his entire life, a man who has never had any discipline his entire life, a man who has never had anybody close to him tell him no his entire life, coming to washington, d.c. and finding a guy that he couldn't
control. so he fired him. >> so i have a question that really scares me and i'm trying to think of who to ask it to. david ignatius has written on the russia investigation, we'll get to that piece in a moment. i think the question is for you because you know everybody really well. obviously we have clear concerns about the qualifications and the personality and the psychology of this president. what does this latest move tell you about the abilities of his -- and the qualifications of his -- and the mental fitness for the job of his press secretary, his chief of staff and i'm sorry, the influence of jared and ivanka which seems to be nowhere and also his foreign policy team. where are these people? why can't they do anything? where were the voices of reason? are there any? >> you're not going to have anybody, first of all, walking to the white house from the foreign policy team telling him not to do this.
>> why? >> because they're the foreign policy team. you a group of people close to trump, and the truth is, and heidi, you report there all the time, nobody tells him no. when i tell him nobody tells him no, nobody tells him no. >> who is the troubling thing about that premise. there are many things trump does that appear to be in the moment, snap decisions. if you look at the rosenstein letter, this doesn't look like something that was crafted overnight. this looks like a pretext. it looks like this was planned. they wanted to get rid of comey, and when he made the misjudgment or the misstatement before congress about the huma e-mails, it gave them that pretense and this was actually in the works. >> michael schmitt, you reported exactly that last night. i read your tweet which began to explain what was happening, which was the white house and the department of justice, according to your reporting, wanted to fire comey for well over a week and went in search
of a justification and asked the attorney general's office to help with that. >> if you look at that letter, attached to it are press clippings that are negative about comey. in the letter, there's a lot of details about different things he had done. this is clearly something plotted out. it was clearly how are we going to get to the point where we can make the rationalization. to my point earlier, now they're going to have to defend that and probably at some point oven capitol hill. they'll have to say with a straight face that there was enough evidence here to get rid of him. the problem they'll have time and time again are their statements on the record from sessions, from trump, defending comey's decision last october to do what he did. >> not just defending it, but praising it. mark halperin, final question to you this block -- we've got so much to go over. the question is what will the republicans do? richard burr, the chairman of the intel committee tweeting he was troubled by the timing and reasoning. senator james langford of
oklahoma said the american people deserve an explanation for this immediate firing. congressman justin amish tweeted he's reviewing legislation and called the second letter of the president's letter bizarre. jeff flake also tweeted last night he can't find any acceptable rationale for the firing. pen sass of nebraska, also on the judiciary committee finds it troubling. >> why can't his people say this before he does it. >> bob corker of tennessee said comey's removal at this particular time will raise questions. the sque how many other republicans are going to stand up and actually do what's best, not only for the party but for their country. >> here is what's going to happen next? you'll see more republicans saying independent counsel, more republicans saying we need comey and the administration to explain why it happened when it
did. you'll see the president -- he's got an interview scheduled. you'll see him under the next 24 to 48 hours under intense pressure to explain this and to explain how it is that the american people can have confidence that the on going investigation that is a dangerous to his administration is going to continue, and republicans i think will insist on that. >> any reporter, any reporter that interviews donald trump and does not throw his own words back in his face and makes him eat them from the campaign praising james comey for his guts and for his courage and his forthrightness for what he did, which was used yesterday as an excuse to fire him in the middle of an investigation, my republican friends, into possible ties between putin and russia and your president of the united states, any reporter that doesn't shove those words back down their mouth is a disgrace and a failure as a reporter.
and with that, michael schmid, we thank you very much for being with us. we have a parting gift. >> lester holt will be sitting down with president trump tomorrow. >> nbc guy, didn't know that. >> unless they cancel. >> unless they cancel. >> little scaredy cat will cancer, that's for sure. this is a very small man and his lies will bring down his presidency. >> you said it yesterday. >> i'll say it every day. maybe at some point you will actually hear the woman at the table saying what all the men will finally say. you'll go, oh, guys, you're so smart. still ahead on "morning joe." >> coming up, lindsey graham, tim kaine, rob blumenthal, and michael resh loss and bob woodward. where his people that are so
close to him? those are the people that are the touchstone on the president's personality. jared and ivanka can get to him. guys, everybody, to be with the narratives. this is bad. plus deputy white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders joins us. we'll be back in a moment with more on this major political story. stay with me, mr. parker. when a critical patient is far from the hospital, the hospital must come to the patient. stay with me, mr. parker. the at&t network is helping first responders connect with medical teams in near real time... stay with me, mr. parker. ...saving time when it matters most. stay with me, mrs. parker. that's the power of and. gives you a reason to slow down and pull up a seat to the table. that's why she takes the time to season her turkey to perfection, and make stuffing from scratch.
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now to the growing fallout from president trump's immigration order, after the president fired the nation's acting attorney general, a holdover from the obama administration for refusing to defend that order. >> releasing a statement at 6:30 a.m., she's not convinced the executive order is lawful. >> this is an order that has to do with the widesead dismissal of u.s. attorneys from around the country. in this case preet bahar rah decided he did not want to resign. and that standoff apparently
resulted in his firing today. >> stunning late breaking news, president trump has fired james comey as director of the fbi. >> writing to him, you are not annual to effectively lead the bureau. >> those were the federal officials who were fired while in the middle of looking into investigating donald trump and the white house. add this nugget, president trump will meet with russian foreign minister sergey lavrov this morning at the white house. the highest level face-to-face meeting with russia of the trump presidency. >> timing is everything, right. >> i'm sure it's a coincidence. >> he fires comey and then you have top ranking russian official coming to the white house and then you have a spokesperson for trump saying we should drop the investigation. >> right, and she's joining us this hour. >> there are also reports yesterday that grand jury subpoenas had been issued in the fbi investigation that was
ratcheting up shortly thereafter jim comey was fired. and then the president of the united states -- >>en in while at the white house trump has hired lawyers to hush back on the claims that he has business ties, lawyering up to connect the dots. >> joining us is former fbi special agent clint watts. clint, good morning, that is attorney general jeff sessions leaving his house this morning. >> recusing himself from all things related to the russia investigation, other than being a part of the firing of the guy leading the russian investigation. >> the firing was not ability the russia investigation, it's about the treatment of hillary clinton. >> clint watts, let's get your reaction, first of all, to the firing of jim comey, the way it was done and the timing of when it was done. >> well, for a guy who likes to claim how classy he is, president trump did it in a low-class way yesterday. he delivers a letter, doesn't apparently seem to know where comey is at.
comey finds out while he's conducting fbi business through a television broadcast that's on behind him. which is a blatant embarrassment to the fbi director. the fbi is probably on pins and needles today trying to understand why this was conducted that way, how do you remain balanced, how do you proceed in investigations? the key point in all this is, in the russia investigation, if you're going to move charges forward, if you find anything, you have to take those to the department of justice. it will be u.s. attorneys running the grand jury. it will be appointees of the trump administration that will then look at whether this should move forward. how can you say they're independent and balanced today after you just fired comey for essentially something that came up last summer that you once applauded. it's an 'embarrassment in terms of how our government is conducted and what we see in
third world pub countries. >> david ignatius, everybody talking about grand jury investigations. when they come up with a conclusion, it is up to trump appointees to decide whether to prosecutor not. and there is is no reason that anyone should have any confidence in anyone that donald trump has appointed to make those decisions this morning. >> i think we can say this is going to be the most important appointment that donald trump makes in his presidency. a lot hinges on this. i just would note one ominous thing and i'd ask clint for his judgment on this. in trump's letter dismissing comey, he makes reference to three separate occasions in which comey had said to him that he was not under investigation. clint, is he setting the table there for being able to say to the next director, there's no investigation of the president,
so don't even think about that? how did you read that? >> i read it exactly that way, that it's a passive push that there's nothing there whenever we bring in the new director, we don't need to waste time on this investigation? this is a repeated pattern of trump which is to try and pressure the fbi director to do what he wants. then when the fbi director doesn't do that, when comey doesn't do that, he's either maligned publicly through tweets or now he's fired. when you look at this, they were trying to push for a leak investigation of which there was no evidence. they wanted como to focus on that over a russia investigation which there's tremendous amounts of evidence for. it's a really perilous situation we're in here in our country where the fbi -- comey said he did these press conferences last summer because he didn't know if the doj can be impartial. now trump applause him in october and fires him for it now many months later. it doesn't add up, doesn't make sense. basically when trump doesn't get
his way, he either smears you or fires you. >> mark halperin, the question now, what will the senate republicans do with the next person meant to run the fbi sent to them by donald trump, if only three say no, then, of course, whoever is appointed, trump doesn't get his selection. is there a possibility that they may strike the deal, the republicans, that you don't get your appointment through unless we get an independent prosecutor? >> it may head in that direction. the person really on the hot seat is rod rosenstein, number two at justice, he is a trump nominee. he's got an incredible reputation. he put his name and reputation on the line yesterday with this letter saying -- >> i've been hearing that, mark. how could he have an incredible reputation this morning after sending a thinly veiled hit
piece, political hit piece to undercut an investigation on whether the president of the united states' presidential campaign had ties with russia and vladimir putin? i'm sorry, i don't want to hear this guy has a good reputation anymore because nobody with a good reputation would do what he did last night. >> what i'm saying is, before we get a nominee and confirmation hearings, some republicans will call for and lots of democrats, he needs to go to capitol hill this week and explain did he talk to the white house, what were the conversations that led up to this decision and his putting his credibility at the official in charge of this investigation on the line. i think some republicans are going to call for that pretty quickly. >> clint watts, thank you very much. coming up, she says it's time to move on from the russia investigation. that's difficult to do when the president himself brings it up in the firing of james comey. deputy white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders straight ahead to explain.
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what did he have to say about comey's firing? >> reporter: to give you behind the scenes color of how this went down at the white house, shortly after 5:00, a meeting with members of the press in sean spicer's office when reince priebus, the chief of staff came in, everyone was told to leave the office, out a side door we wouldn't traditionally go in or out of, then sean delivered the message that the fbi director would be out. for hours there was effectively silence from this administration, no public statements before spicer, sarah huckabee sanders, his deputy and kellyanne conway approached the cameras. i had a chance to speak with sean spicer last night. here is part of what he told me. >> scholars are preparing this to nixon's saturday night massacre. what do you think of those comparisons. >> i think that's ridiculous. the deputy attorney general is an individual confirmed by the senate 94-6 just two weeks ago.
>> did you underestimate the backlash about this? >> i think we're a little shocked at the politicalization that people like nancy pelosi, like chuck schumer -- >> republican senator burr is among those -- >> i think those individuals on the democratic side who were very clear the director lost their confidence to lead the fbi, who politicized the process, this is something they should be welcoming the president's decision, something they called for for a while, and i think it's ironic they are not agreeing with the president's decisions. >> reporter: the bottom line is spicer and his colleagues say that the president should be praised for taking this decisive action. really what struck me, mika and joe, is the fact that as this was going down and we're told spicer insists this decision was made only after receiving that letter from the deputy attorney general that was also recommended by attorney general jeff sessions who confirmed that decision, that the president came to this conclusion, but came to the conclusion based on
that recommendation of rod rosenstein who only served in this post for two weeks, there appeared to be no messaging strategy and certainly no replacement in place. >> peter, was it your impression that they were surprised at the blowback they got last night? was that your impression? >> reporter: that's exactly right. we were here in the dark asking questions of aides. they conceded that while they thought democrats would push back and try to say it was all political, they were overwhelmed by it. that's what made the three-hour period so striking, between the moment we first got the information and all of a sudden whatever president trump was saying on cable tv, his aides were rushed to the cameras and went out and tried to
fight his case. >> nbc's peter alexander. thank you very much. joining us now deputy white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders. thanks for being with us. >> good morning. thank you for having me on. >> why specifically did president trump fire fbi director james comey? >> i think it's real simple
here. the deputy attorney general, a guy who has a stellar reputation was just confirmed 94-6, across the board has the respect of democrats, republicans, people in the justice department, made a very strong recommendation, the president followed it and made a quick and decisive action to fire james. >> was this decision made on comey's handling of the russia investigation? >> i know. i know that's what the media would love to report and say. if that's going to continue, it's going to continue whether jim comey is there or not. this decision was made because the deputy attorney general, again, a guy who has a reputation -- >> i understand. >> okay. >> we got it. >> what was the rationale of the deputy attorney general? >> i think he laid it out very clearly in the letter he sent to the president that you all have, i'm sure, scoured over. this is a guy who had lost not only the respect and the
credibility of people within the justice department. democrats and republicans alike have been calling for him to step down. joe, earlier this year you thought it was time for him to step down and get out of the way. i think we're at a place where the fbi, the reputation of this department has been under major scrutiny, taken a big hit. we need to restore credibility back there. i think that has to come from a new leader and new director. >>
sarah, did the president lose confidence as well in the director or just take the advice of the deputy attorney general? >> i think it's both. i think we've heard from the rank and file of the fbi, but particularly someone who had done a thorough review and someone who has the respect and reputation that the deputy attorney general has.
>> at what point did james comey's handling of the hillary clinton e-mail investigation change? back in october after director comey put out that letter, president trump praised james and praised his handling and said it took a lot of guts for him to do what he did when he did it. at what point did the president's opinion of james comey change? >> i think it's taken place over a period of time. i think it came down, the bottom line was he had lost the respect, not only of the rank and file within the fbi, democrats and republicans alike, in a town like washington where you can't get democrats and republicans to agree on much of anything, i think you can see across the board generally that most people thought comey had become more of a distraction, he was incapable of carrying out the job he needed to do and it was time for him to go.
>> you said last night it was time to move on from the russia investigation, there's nothing there and it's become absurd. do you know something that the rest of us don't know about there being nothing there? >> i know that person after person your own joe scarborough said there's no evidence of collusion here. they've been pushing on this for months -- >> wait, wait, wait. i've got to interrupt. >> she's quoting you, joe. >> i said there's no obvious evidence of collusion out there right now. if there were that obvious evidence of collusion, it would have already been leaked by now. i also said there has to be in depth investigations because it may take, and i think probably an independent prosecutor to figure out the financial ties between donald trump and russia, to figure out -- >> son eric says there's a lot of. >> donald trump, junior, all talking about how important
russia money has been keeping the trump empire afloat all these years. >> that's a pretty egregious stretch -- >> since you brought my name up twice, a couple liberal democrats twisted my words yesterday. what i said there's nothing
obvious there. doesn't that just prove we need an independent counsel to investigate this? >> not at all. joe, we've had almost an entire year that they have spent, the house committees, the senate committees, the fbi e, everyone has looked into this and everybody comes to the same conclusion. >> yes, there's something there. >> you're actually not telling the truth right now. >> wow. that's a pretty bold claim. >> you've got richard burr, running the senate intel committee talking about how deeply troubled hep is. senator ben sasse serving on the judiciary committee talking about the very troubling findings and many others, mike
barnicle, talking about how this investigation needs to go forward. the senate investigation, mike, is just starting to take off right now. >> and every bit of it -- i hope the senate completes it so they can come to the same conclusion that everyone else has and that every person has said, whether it's been clapper or others that there is no evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. >> the investigation has just started, sarah. that's like a prosecutor starting a criminal case saying no, we don't have the evidence yet, but that's why we have an investigation. >> again, i said i'm glad that they will be able to complete that because i think, and i'm very confident, they are going to come to the same conclusion that everyone else that's gone down this rabbit trail will come to, that there is no evidence of collusion. >> it's not a rabbit trail. there's so much evidence for them to follow, they're going to be doing this for quite some time. something that was obvious six months ago. >> i think what was obvious six
months ago is the democrats were looking for a reason and an excuse for why they were beat so badly. >> and your president loved comey. mike barnicle. >> let's skip over your investigative prowess and go back to the letter that the president wrote to director comey in which he say, i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions i am not under investigation, i nevertheless confirm with the judgment of the doj to dismiss comey. do you know how many people helped the president prepare that letter, if any, who approved sending that letter and the allegation that he was told three times by jim comey? do you know anything about this? how closely contained was this letter and was this decision in the west wing? >> look, i don't know -- i don't think there was a head count done this terms of how many people read the letter, but i think it's pretty clear that the
president along with, again, i go back to the deputy attorney general -- >> sarah, you don't know if the white house counsel, the chief of staff saw this letter before it went -- >> helped him along? >> i can't imagine that they would have not seen that before it went out. >> that's stunning. heidi? >> thank you. >> sarah, why the urgency? the ig had an investigation under way of how comey handled the clinton investigation. this was done with no replacement in hand, and the justification, again, is for things that happened months and months ago. what happened within the last 24, 48 hours, why the urgency to do this without even giving a heads-up as well to the career staff at the fbi? >> look, you have a new deputy attorney general in that position. he conducted a review -- >> sarah -- >> a great reputation, yeah.
>> the same president of the united states, sarah, praising james comey non-stop for what he did during the campaign. >> last i checked, he was in charge and is very important. >> i think he showed he was in charge last night. i don't think there's any question about that. >> why the change? >> he was given a recommendation. he made a decision and made it quickly. >> you keep talking about the deputy attorney general. you've got the president of the united states who has been praising james comey repeatedly for doing the same thing that they're now justifying the firing the middle of the russia investigation. does donald trump not stand by everything he said during the 2016 campaign now about james comey? >> absolutely. here is the thing, joe -- >> absolutely he did not stand by his praise of comey. >> that's not what i said. i said the director of the fbi reports to the attorney general. >> i need clarification here. does the president of the united states stand by his praise of
james comey from last year, especially september, october, november of last year? >> knowing the president, i would say yes, he does. >> okay. thank you so much. >> that's interesting. >> david praised him. >> so sarah, you made reference repeatedly to the report by the deputy ag rob rosenstein. who asked him to make that review? who asked him to undertake that review? >> i'm not sure it was requested. all i know is that the director reports to him. i would imagine that is part of the process of him coming on board and taking it over that position. >> this is a crucial issue. was this an independent effort on this part? did he talk about it with jeff
sessions? >> sean spicer says it was self-started. i'm sure you know the answer. i was asked if it was something he came to on his own. that's my understanding. this is something as coming into this new position and being a person that would oversee the director of the fbi, that would be part of this process to do a review and to make a recommendation based on that review. that's what he did. she would have immediately fired jam james comey. i'm sure it is the very people that would have been cheering and celebrating comey being
dismissed will be the very ones saying hi shouldn't have been. >> i can tell you, we certainly would not hear. i can also tell you that the very people who this morning are cheering the firing of james comey in the trump camp are the very ones who were praising him last fall for his courage and his tenacity. >> why was there urgency to act on it without a replacement lined up? once it was written why was there anner gent si to act on it? >> i think when you receive a report that is so clear and a recommendation by someone like
the deputy attorney general you have to clois but to act. there was no reason to sit around and wait and it was time to move forward the deputy director of the fbi will step in as the acting director for the time being and so to pretend like there is pure chaos and no leadership i think is a little bit disengene use. >> there's so much flying around the president's decision to ultimately fire director comey was not about the russia investigation? >> absolutely not partly because that's not based on the recommendations but the other part is there's nothing to that. there's no evidence of any collusion. i think that's the biggest
point. >> so in the justice department memo from the deputy ag one of the reasons given was that he served the attorney general's attorney when he decided not to recommend prosecution so does he standby his firing of jim comey? >> again, i hate to sound like a broken record but i think it's very simple. he has the person that the fbi director reports to. give him a very strong and very compelling recommendation that he needs to go.
>> so he gets is recommendation and quickly turns around and fires james comey. he had the 44th president of the united states and attorney general recommending that he fire his national security adviser -- >> ties to russia. >> ties to russia who is a risk to nation nag security. >> i think it's partly a credibility component here. you have one of your political opponents making the reck member dags versus somebody who has -- >> a president of the united
states? >> let's be honest. >> we're trying. >> what about sally yates? a very conservative republican? >> i also would hardly be pressed to say that not a partisan in this case as well. a decision was made and i don't see there was a review process in both cases. once it was maetd a redecision was made and carried out. >> okay. thank you so much for being with us. we greatly appreciate it. >> thank you for having
me on. >> coming up, one of the people
that had a heads up. we'll be asking senator lindsay gram how it impacts the investigation into russia. tim cane will be with us as well. senator from connecticut asking for a special prosecutor. plus tis to yans join us. no president has ever dismissed an fbi director under such circumstances. we'll be right back. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ sfx: engine revving ♪ (silence) ♪
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197 million passengers can fly with less turbulence. i am on my way to working with one billion people. i look forward to working with you. >> took gets for him to make in light of the kind of opposition he had try to go brekt from criminal prosecution. you know that. >> i respect the fact that he was able to come back after what he did. he has to hang tough. a lot of people want him to do
the wrong thing. he has become more famous than me. >> since he has got to hang tough -- >> and making everyone clap for him. >> note to anybody that works for president trump. you must have a sick feeling because you you never know when you're day will come. or maybe not. >> but you have got a president of the united states who has spent his entire life surrounded by yes men, entire life without any checks or balances that the rest of us go through. >> on any level in life. there are never ceos that is boards they have to answer to.
somebody said if donald trump had worked in a publicly traded company his decision-making process would have been different. he could be destroying everything and nobody there to do anything but pick up after his mess. >> this is going to unravel. >> it is going to unravel. i feel badly for people like sarah sanders who are charged with an impossible pass k. >> yes. >> she was just on our show -- >> yeah, in the last ur.
there's a dly diminishment. it is far larger than this individual donald trump or james comey. it is about america and about the united states of america and about the president, how we define it, think of it and the belaif yor. >> and i see what's going on and i see what's going on yesterday. i said i don't like this guy rub running my party. i'm not going to be a member of his party. >> that is deeply offensive to me. it is a guy that would over what they put in place. i spoke to a lot of them last night. >> and i know you loved your
party. >> i have been writing about this, donald trump, a lifelong democrat has taken over the republican party. it was a hostile bid last year. they owe him absolutely nothing. are they going to march and get detroyed. >> principals have long been deeply disturbed by throughout this administration. this is a breaking point. you may say this is the moment when it becomes clear we can no longer use him they held their nose and supported them because they thought we can use this guy
to get our agenda and to get big things that we care about enacted. so they will bail. >> and even before this tuesday night massacre you had a vote on a health care bill that had an 18% approval rating. republicans marched over the cliff for the benefit of a press conference for donald trump so he could talk about what a great president he was, sort of a ribbon cutting ceremony. the political report moved over 20 seats in the democrats direction. even before that you actually had party preference polls you
have 23, 24 seats. the republicans behind you know they are in deep deep mud. -- if they follow this guy into the swamp. >> the reason a lot will demand answers is this is an issue where donald trump and the way it was handled yesterday this is not a day trade people will forget about. this is one he'll have to explain a lot more than he did yesterday. he will face not just a revolt but a serious set of question that is will come nate more than the russia investigation has
today. >> and just as a strategic question, he now opened himself a special investigation, a special council, someone from the outside to look in at what's happening, to shine a brighter light on that. >> you look at what happened yesterday and there's no doubt that too many my from pennsylvania, portland from ohio, johnson from wisconsin, these republicans in blue states are going to have to call for a special prosecutor they only need three to say we will not
give you your attorney general until you give us a special prosecutor. >> the order from the commander in chief, fire the investigator. >>. >> a great and profound crisis. >> he believed the executive could overpower the institutions designed to keep his presidency in check. >> he said it was solel to remove crnation as quickly as possible. >> in the end he destroyed the public's confidence and tarnished his legacy forever. >> nothing like this has ever happened before. >> the question for washington this morning, is another
president using his power to stop an investigation and will congress standby and watch while it happens? the latest to fall fbi director jim comey wloz con ver shl announcements. >> there is evidence they were extremely careless. >> rocked the presidential race. >> and fed trump's message in the final days. >> i respect the fact that director comey was able to come back after what he did. comey was in the heat of an investigation looking into ties of the trump associates and the kremlin. >> there is no way to give a timetable of when it will be done. >> his firing requires another,
the saturday night massacre. investigating the water gate scandal stemming from the 1972 reelection campaign. it revealed the president had secret over office reportings. they issued a subpoena seeking toez tapes. he offered up summaries. >> he offered to try to gain access to the tapes. >> he rejected that offer and stood by his temperature power. >> he waited for weekend when he ordered him the fire cox. he pledged not to stand in the way of the investigation. >> mr. cox will have full independence as far as i'm
concerned. nixon found someone else who would do the deed. >> the justice department is headed at the president's election by robert h.bork. >> forced his party to face the grim facts. >> the people that were try to go obey the law, trying to enforce the law and now they are the people that are forced out. that's -- that i think is the crux of the new crisis. are we going to be a government of law? >> and now another president is clinging to carry out his
orders. it is only the latest. sally yates fired for not enforcing the travel ban just after her officer enformed the white house that michael flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the russians chls and nrk's top investigator it was not so long ago that a president who felt looked down by the press and by elites and believed he had to play dirt toy to win an unfair
game. the question this morning is whether the history old system will swing into action. >> wow. >> and by the way, john, last night the nixon library got in on the news tweeting fun fact, president nixon never fired the director of the fbi. >> now more than ever. >> so john. >> you know, it goes back to the crisis is a turning point in a disease. does the patient survive or does
the patient die? i think we are at a point here where we are going see where the 45th president of the united states respects the rule of law. what we have heard is that that's talking point out there he moved quickly. that's authoritarian talk. they are trying to bully their way through the fact that the president of the united states has removed someone who is in charge of an investigation that could lead to treason.
>> joining us democratic richard bloomenthal. what was your first thought when you heard of the comey firing? >> disbelief. i skould not believe it! you said you will introduce legislation appointed by a three-judge panel. explain how that would work and what the job of that council would be. >> there are two ways abdomen i have been calling to appoint a special prosecutor.
it was established right after watergate. it was to have an attorney general petition to appoint an independent council who would supervise the investigation. either way what's needed as an independent objective impartial prosecutor because only a prosecutor can hold accountable the people who may have committed treason or fraud or lied to the fbi. it was when he refused to rule out the president.
>> right. >> as a potential target. >> right. >> senator, i believe you're one of six senators who voted against this because of this. the white house is hanging a ton on him and saying his credibility and recommendation w was. >> decisive here. it absolutely failed even the most cursory smell test to hang it on an incident with respect to his e-mails some ten months ago is -- really defies credibility. he has to say i am going to appoint a special prosecutor
blast at issue is an investigation and i will support it. i'm a career prosecutor, which he is. >> wow. >> all right. thank you so much. you were talking about the possibility of treason. right now in the systems of checks and balances it seems that it is united states senate that so much is riding on here if hamilton and madison's system is to actually be able to do its job. >> yeah. aaron burr of all people who had his own moments with loyalty to
the system said in his farewell address that if the constitution ever falls at the hands of a demagogue it willing fought on the floor of the united states senate. that's last line of defense. you think back to -- since we are thinking about nixon you think back to the meeting in august two or three days before nixon resigned where they take john roads from the house and they go down and tell nixon tt it's over. only has 12 to 15 votes in the senate. that was the moment that began to push nixon towards resigning. the senate, i think, has a special responsibility here as does the house but the senate is that last line.
>> that was my feeling last night when this happened. you were talking about these headlines. these are headlines we will remember far very long time. i was nine years old i think. let's see, 74. i was 11 years old. i remember the headedness linli nixon resigned. there are also moments in men and womens political career that is define their entire careers, how they stand or how they cower when challenged usually by a president of their own party. are we at one of those times for republicans of the united states senate? >> i think we'll see profiles in coming weeks or months.
i think you're right to focus on people in your party, republicans. defending the rule of law, defending the integrity of our system really falls to people from president trump's party who will insist that these investigations go forward so that we can have answers on questions about russia's influence campaign so that we have genuinely independent investigation of prosecution. my biggest fear, to be honest, is that the white house is pushed to focus on leaks of investigation. it will be the dominant strain. if you remember back to watergate the reason we continued to know what was going on is courageous people talked to journalists especially at the washington post and so the public had a sense of what was moving forward. i think this white house will do everything it can to choke off
that flow of information to indim date peopi intimidate people. it ought to worry all of us. preventing that is in the hands of courageous republicans in congress. >> he is tweeting this morning. anything worth it? >> no. >> really quickly, i want to follow up on those that weren't listening last hour, there have been some republicans that have stood up quickly. one of the first is actually one of the most parent and that was senator richard burr, the chairman of the house intell committee. he immediately said i am troubled by the timing and reason of director comey's termination. he called him a good and honorable man. >> is that getting us to the second base of this that we need to get to in terms of the
independent council? >> he also said this is making things more confusing and making our job more difficult almost as if he is setting up a predicate for a call for an independent prosecutor? >> he is also opening the door for other republicans to come out and speak their minds and speak more freely. you are seeing some of those republicans walk through that door. i'm seeing tweets from folks like senator flake. today will be critical. these republicans are going to get hammered, joe. i spoke with a democratic leadership and they said we intentionally during his confirmation hearings put him on the record to say yes, if the situation were appropriate i will appoint a special prosecutor. who is going to say that the situation right now is not appropriate? the last man standing who has no political ties to trump, wasn't
appointed by trump, who is doing an investigation is gone. >> all right. >> we need to hear from the leadership too. >> absolutely. joining us now, member of the armed services me democratic senator tim from virginia. i want to know what you thought the moment you heard he was fired. >> i was stunned. i think the president took this action because he feels the noose tightening in the russia investigation. there is a clear pattern here when deputy attorney general yates told the white house about his being compromised by she got fired. nsa flynn was fired when contacts with russia became public. attorney general sessions was caught misleading about his context with russia and had to
recuse himself and now the president fired the director of the fbi who is conducting an investigation into their ties with russia. >> and you can add to the list who was fired after the president promised to hold him on. he was conducting investigations against some of the most powerful allies in new york. he we got fired as well. >> this is a pattern that's stacking up. the other thing that's really unusual, the letter that president trump wrote had a tale in it like a bad poker player who tells you what you're worried about. he says we are letting you go. thanks for telling me three times that i wasn't subject of an investigation about my russian ties. that shows a deeply insecure president who is very very concerned about this investigation and that's the reason that jim comey got fired. we have got to get to the bottom of this. >> you were in a unique position to talk about this given you
were the vice presidential nominee. you were all outraged by the conduct when he put out the letter and then the second letter a few days later. do you see why some believe he shouldn't be in his position and now out dcraged? >> i was critical of director comey. there's a reason you give an fbi director a ten year tenure. they should be able to be criticized. the indetpendentindependent, wh congress likes what he likes or whether the president likes or doesn't like it you give them a ten year term so they can act without fear of being let go. while i was critical i never called for him to be fired. he has to have independence. this russia investigation is making donald trump very very
nervous, as his letter showed. that's why i believe he was fired. >> what role, if any, do you think his fishing for a plea bargain or immunity has to do with what happened to jim comey yesterday? so drawing the line it may be hard to draw a straight line. when you stack up sally yates, jeff sessions and now jim comey, what is the connecting tissue between all of these extraordinary actions? and now you see that's known
because it has what's called the rocket docket. if their are subpoenas being issued there that tells you things are moving. >> all right. thank you so much. >> thanks for being with us. >> thank you. let's bring in justice and security analyst matthew miller. i want to read for you the report as to how james comey found out he was fired. he was addressing a group of fbi employees in los angeles when a television in the background flashed the news that he had been fired. in response mr. comey laughed saying he thought it was a fairly funny prank. his staff told mr. comey that he should step into a near by office he proceeded to shake hands with employees he had been speaking to and stepped into a side office where he confirmed he had been fired. at that point he had not heard
from the white house. >> your response to the events of yesterday and where does it take us? >> i think the president has crossed a red line here. you have been talking about our constitutional checks and balances. one thing is good men and women standing up and doing what's right. we saw a major test failed last night. the department of justice has been independent from the white house. there's no rule, there's no law establishing that independence.
and what we saw was instead of standing up for independence they puckbuckled. >> to the president. >> yes. he couldn't do it on his own. >> they buckled -- >> but we see him do this, joe. he bullies people. >> they buckled and actually an attorney general who had done the right thing and recused himself from any russian investigation actually signed off on this tuesday night massacre, so to speak. so donald trump once again stepping in and doing whatever he can do to brush aside any checks or any balances. so the question is, what does
the republican party do, the united states senate do? what does paul ryan do? >> well, the leaders we have not heard from yet and democrats will be very aggressive. the house is not in session, as you know. check and others will be aggressive to putting this back on the republicans. the white house and the president this morning are trying to put it back and saying everybody agreed he did such an outrageous thing. >> but for every one of those statements we have a statement from donald trump and republicans saying that comey did a great thing. >> yes. >> that nullifies anything and then a republican trying to whitewash it that way is too stupid. it is to not only have a voting card they are too stupid and they should sequester them, put them in a corner, get bubble wrap, wrap them up and stop them from hurting themselves.
their president praised comey. >> he is going to have to explain a lot more. again, you look at a decision like firing the fbi director. can't be done by staff. there needs to be a public explanation because not just because of the politics of it but because of the constitutional issues involved. they have got to explain it or republicans i think will be very insistent about things that will head this investigation into a direction exact opposite of where it is to go. >> you one more question? >> i'm sorry. >> he has so many questions. >> it was joe, not me. >> one more thing, the question was raised this morning that it would be the deputy attorney general who would appoint independent council. he recommended to the president that comey be dismissed. how would that work? do you think this deputy
attorney general would do it? >> you 15 seconds, go. >> absolutely not. rob rosenstein had the backbone to stand up and do what was right. he showed last night he doesn't and there's no reason to think he will appoint a special council now. >> thank you very much. ahead on morning joe, senator lindsay gram will be our guest. i look forward to that. yesterday lead the president to beef up his legal team. this morning he is -- >> going to sue us. >> he is tweeting too. liberty mutual stood with us
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aside. >> with attorney general at his side president clinton went before white house reporters to say his leadership left the fbi in turmoil. >> after a thorough review of mr. sessions leadership she reported to me in no uncertain terms he could no longer effect fly lead the bureau and law enforcement community. >> only one other fbi director and that was william sessions fired by president clinton in 1993. it came after an internal ethics investigation found he billed the government for personal spending and engaged in falts transactions to avoid paying taxes. nbc's pete williams reported on that case 25 years ago. he joins us next with new rep t
reporting on the exit of james comey. you're watching "morning joe". whether it's connecting one of the world's most innovative campuses. or bringing wifi to 65,000 fans. businesses count on communication, and communication counts on centurylink. and these kids are having a bake sale for their soccer team so i need some cash. can i give you my mother's maiden name or my first concert or - [team member] oh, well, now you can just use your phone. [customer] my phone?
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joe". pete, what are you hearing from your sources about how agents and officials there first of all heard about james comey's firing and how they are reacting to it? >> you heard about it which is through the cable television alerts last night. they had no idea. i was talking to fbi people and asking why was comey fired and they said we don't know what you're talking about. the feeling over there goes along three lines. one is comey was generally well liked and well respected. yes, there were agents who were not happy with how he handled the clinton e-mail investigation but he was a person who always talked up the bureau and agents and integrity. they liked that. he was popular and well liked. secondly, the way he was fired, the president didn't call him, the attorney general didn't call him. he literally found out about it
standing in front of field office. the question is what happens now in whether the trump campaign was in any way involved with that. this does cast something of a cloud over that. >> and before i let you go part of the rational that we heard on this show was that director comey lost the confidence of the rank and file. from your reporting, is that true? >> not true. the irony here is there was a feeling that he wanted to tell his story about how he handled the clinton e-mail investigation which he did last week before the senate. the feeling was he had sort of finally gotten it past him. it turns out it was one of the things that he didn't accept any mistakes and admitting any mistakes and it ended up being one of the factors against him. >> thank you, as always.
nbc's lester holt will sit down with president trump for an exclusive interview that will air on nbc nightly news. ahead this morning senator lindsay gram joins us live. we are back in a moment with our political round table. stay with us. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪ "dr sen, aftecareful consideration of your application, it is
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verified -- >> sankty -- don't get nervous every time. >> what did you say -- >> the problematic idea of wh-- don't know what that means but i like it when you tweet it at me. let's start with hugh he has his avengers body armor on. >> there is no subpoena, no resignations. there are recommendations and last week james comey testified under oath that rosenstein is a great independent -- >> sarah said the same thing 50,000 times. >> i saw that. i read the rosenstein memo three times. he is repeating what every fo
former -- when i was in the department of justice and bill webster which is that he has ha and why -- >> why is it we have the president of the united states, commander in chief, guy in charge of the entire executive branch praising james comey for the very things he was fired for. >> i'm not talking about the inconsistency with trump here. >> but you have to because -- >> decide to fire him. >> he's the director of port and i think trumps the director -- >> imagine if that memo had come out and he had not fired him. imagine that he didn't. >> nicole, please, go. >> a lot of people have recommended that i do stupid things through the years and i look at them and smile, that's sweet, thank you. but i would not do something that somebody recommended if it went completely against everything that i had been saying for an entire campaign.
>> and trump is the decider and seemed to mix up his role as the firer in chief and commander in chief. the fact you would allow or accept a recommendation to fire the head of the fbi while the fbi is investigating your campaign's ties to russia is insane. it says more about the people around and of course donald trump wanted to fire him. the fact that democrats who by and large believe that james comey is the reason we have a president trump are the ones defending them says something hideous about the republican party. >> yes, well hideous but -- you've got to look at in part chairman burr who stepped out and troubled by it. >> and ben sass and john mccain, the usual heroes but minus them -- >> by the way, you only need three heroes in the senate to change things. >> silence with regards to paul ryan, haven't heard from him, mitch mcconnell. >> what has happened to paul ryan? >> there's a willingness on the
part of democratic trump to flaut democratic norm we can talk process, there's optics and then there's substance. the optics is it looks bad, he fired the guy leading the investigation around russian ties and campaign. the substance -- politics and optics are bad but substance of it though, you've been talking about madison and hamilton and checks and balances for two years now. don't worry about the totalitarianism, the system -- and here you have a guy whose personality, strong man, whose actions -- >> i have no doubt that the system will continue to work and that's the thing, hugh, we've had all of these stress tests and we've had the president's aides going on tv on sunday saying the president is not subject to the checks and balances. his authority is not to be
questioned but our system has worked. >> and will continue to work. does anybody at the table believe rod rosenstein is involved in a russian collusion. of course not -- >> when did he give up that memo. >> between the testimony director comey gave last week in which he doubled down on the correctness of the behavior and it's referenced that may be the breaking points. >> do you think yates was fired for not enforcing the musli ban? >> no i think- >> okay. >> don't let the streams cross -- >> okay, they are just -- >> rod rosenstein just got there, a man of tremendous st stature -- >> we need a steven larson, some former federal -- >> how do you feel about mccain? >> i need someone like judge webster, as i used to when judge webster who come into the room
at the department of justice, i would stand up, you need someone above it all because of russia and as comey testified. >> somebody to stand up to donald trump and that's absolutely -- >> you don't think mckab would stand up to -- >> i think you have someone who has gone through confirmation and now that general counsel of boeing because he was second in line for the chief justice ship and i can't imagine to be independent if you have someone with intig receipt and makes a recommendation to donald trump, he will follow that recommendation based upon the integrity of the person who recommends it. why didn't he dont that with michael flynn. >> when you -- is it saturday nit massacre? >> yeah. >> it is not. it is not a crisis, it's jim
comey's repeated failure over ten months to recognize -- >> by donald trump gave speeches celebrating what jim comey did and now fired -- it's laughable. >> that's something, it's context. it's all context. >> it matters an enormous amount. there are 2,000 open terrorism investigations in the united states you need a bureau that works. >> how serious do you take the russian investigation right now? >> i think it's very important the senate intelligence committee do it. i do not want a special prosecutor. >> we're going to get one. that's what happens next. >> rod rosenstein -- >> there are after firing jim comey, i think the lights start to fire. >> there will be an interesting, not happening. >> not happening then you haven't -- >> will you be willing to appoint a special prosecutor. >> he said he would be willing to if he thought it was
necessary. patrick leahy said should he appoint it and he said i trust his judgment and rod rosenstein's judgment under oath. >> that is what she'll say on a repeat because there's nothing else to say and you're doing it on a loop too with all due respect. it is unbelievable. sorry. >> it's called the presidency is failing day by day by day lies. sorry. >> hugh hewitt, eddie, thanks bo. >> are you going to be around today? >> yeah, people can be watching you on msnbc all day, they love you here. >> i think you're flat wrong and probably even doing trump's bidding but -- >> talk to anyone at the white house. >> lindsey graham joins us live and bob casey who calls the comey firing nixonian.
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but it is free speech. >> well, that was james comey just two days ago and we hope he's not reading twitter this morning. welcome back to "morning joe." it's wednesday, may 10th. we have msnbc contributor mike barnicle and host of "deadline white house", at 4:00 p.m. >> deadline, baby. >> svu -- >> lots of people watch svu. >> i love it. what areat hour and perfect for you. we're so glad you're like a huge member of the msnbc family. >> your first guest should be ksh. >> tell me. >> the man who knows about the rebel onthan anybody in american popular culture, historian, and sort of our own version of -- john meachum and joining the conversation, associate editor of the "washington post" bob woodward and michael beschloss. let's start with historians first. john meachum, i loved your quote
because really as you look at how donald trump has ravaged the justice department and the law enforcement arm of the executive branch, it is now up to the united states senate to actually stand up to a man who sees himself as an authoritarian and auto krat and man who's power is not to be questioned. give us the bird quote again and tell us just how important the united states senate is to this country's democracy this morning. >> what he said in the farewell address, if the constitution is ever to be strangled by uxsurpers or demagogues will witness its dying agonys on this floor. which meant the senate itself was the last line of defense. when you look at the whole structure of the constitution, the senate ultimately was i
think alexander hamilton said the saucer in which the coffee was to cool. so there has to be a final court here. that's where we lodge the authority to convert and remove a president and federal judges. senators have, a, the longest term of anyone in the system except for lifetime appointments and these days they are virtually lifetime appointments and they are tasked withstanding up ultimately to these abuses of power. and what we'd have to find out is to what extent was russia involved and possibly with the trump campaign, possibly, during the last campaign, which was as many people have noted, essentially an attack on country. >> and michael beschloss, i want to ask you, if -- what historical parallels there may
be where history is rhyming with the event and what your take is on -- i don't want to question the motives of my friends that keep bringing up the deputy attorney general as a justification for firing but it is certainly -- it seems to be a strange fig leaf when the deputy attorney's very thin letter is condemning james comey for the very things the president othe united states is praising him for for the past six months. >> you're absutelright, joe. a thin letter it was. and if you're looking for a place in history, i love the video you had during the last hour about archibald cox, there are certain parallels that fix with nixon and cox and certain that don't. but the ones that do are these, nixon fired archibald cox and his intention was to shut down the watergate investigation. he was saying essentially as we heard from again, your wonderful
conversation with sara sanders, nixon was saying move on this investigation has gone on long enough. so he fired the special prosecutor, sent fbi agents to surround their offices with the idea that they might seize the evidence and that was going to be it. and the only reason the things changed was that members of the senate, especially members of nixon's own party republicans said this is not something that shows respect for our institutions and our democracy. this is the way an autocrat behaves and you cannot have an investigation done by your own justice department. they demanded a new special prosecutor and only because of that protest both in the senate and the house and by americans across the country was nixon forced to hire a new special prosecutor, leon jaworsxi just as tough. >> the second historian to say this is the way an autocrat
behaves. >> i wonder what your views are on pt comparisons here, the nixon library tweeted last night rejecting that comparison saying president nixon never fired a director of the fbi. are there comparisons here in terms of undermining an investigation into the president? >> indeed there are comparisons. this is a remarkable moment. it's not something to take lightly. but as michael beschloss was saying, there was a lot of pressure on nixon after he fired special prosecutor ash muchibald cox but because of that pressure, he blinked in two ways, agreed to hire another special prosecutor and turned over a bunch of the tapes which were the issue here, those tapes contained a lot of incriminating
information then that gave that accelerated the independent investigation by leon jaw orski and eventually there were more tapes in the supreme court forced nixon to turn those over and that ended the reign. the circumstances also in fairness are quite different. by the time special prosecutor cox was fired, there had been four days of public testimony by nixon's counsel john dean, devastating testimony saying that nixon was leading the cover-up. there was also the disclosure of the secret taping system, which told everyone involved, hey, there's a way to get evidence to establish what really happened. in the case of the russian investigation, there are lots of
questions that are going to need to be answered, big question here is -- and it's right to focus on the senate, can they step up here and conduct an inquiry that is bipartisan, aggressive, done in a way that you really examine all witnesses and all evidence? that's very hard for the senate to do. >> well, speaking of the senate and investigation, let's bring on from capitol hill for first interview, the morning republican lindsey graham of south carolina. another boring day -- >> nothing going on. >> i'm going to disney world. >> right. >> already there, sir. >> a lot of people in strange costumes. >> i don't know what ride you're on there but it's a weird ride. so chairman burr, richard burr, ben sass and bob corker all expressing concerns about the
timing of this firing. do you share their concerns along with senator john mccain? do you share their concerns? >> about the timing -- the question is was it justified? you could make a pretty good case comey has been compromised in terms of being able to lead in the future. i like the guy think he's very sincere. this is not watergate, i don't remember the democratic leader calling for archibald cox to be fired and you have democratic leader calling for this guy to be fired. i think we need a new face or new guy or gal and move on. >> senator graham, it's nicole, you and our friend, my old boss, john mccain have been the tip of the spear in terms of profiles in courage and trying to get to the bottom of exactly what russia was doing and i think yesterday you walked back a little bit but said you were interested in understanding donald trump's business connections if there are any -- >> still am. >> do you have any concern about the optics of firing fbi
director while the bureau is investigating those two things, donald trump's ties to russia? >> the fbi is not mr. comey, it's an investigation that will live long after he's gone. if you think this going to result in the senate stop looking ats trump it won't or the fbi will stop its investigation, it won't. you have to understand that democrats have called for this guy to be dismissed for months now all of a sudden he's been dismissed -- >> but the democrats -- that's the point, senator. they think he made president trump president and they are defending comey and republicans aren't, you don't think that's bad for the party? >> i think the american people made trump president. i don't buy into this idea that -- you know, the only way you're going to have a fair hearing in some people's eyes is to convict trump and the only way to have a fair hearing is stop the investigation. on fox everybody is okay with this, by the way. >> of course. >> what a surprise. >> but it's no surprise --
>> it's a great network. >> but here's the deal. i don't care what fox things. i don't really care what y'all think about the timing. i've got a job to do and i'm going to do it this. this guy, mr. comey, is a fine man who has compromised himself multiple ways. i spent yesterday morning trying to explain what he meant about huma abedin and weiner, i have the distinction impression she send thousands of classified e-mails to find out that's not true. let's start over and get somebody in the fbi we can all agree is capable of doing the job. >> senator, the president called you yesterday to give you a head's up -- >> yeah, about five minutes. >> about five minutes, called about five minutes before it was announced, right? >> yeah. >> during the course of the call, did you get the opportunity to ask him why now? >> no, he just told me that he got a letter f the deputy attorney general and he said he
thought the guy couldn't lead the agency and i said that's your call but you need to pick somebody that we all have confidence in. >> curious, and i know you don't care what we think, i'm curious what you think of our questions. do you think -- >> good ones. >> thank you. >> that was the correct answer, you also get -- >> many happy years to ask them too -- in all seriousness, i understand what you're saying but i'm not overly worried about this. i'm worried about where we're going as a country. >> i agree with you but i think this actually impacts where we're going as a country because i feel this president is not able to be truthful and puts people out there to be stooges for his interests that are not in the interest of the country. putting that aside though, my question to you is, don't you think it's curious that flynn stayed in place for 18 days while the questions were
erupting around him. he was warned by flynn, quite frankly joe warned him about flynn. we complained on air right and left just as much as we complained about the potential of rudy giuliani being secretary of state, everybody was concerned about flynn. yet it took weeks and weeks and weeks for him -- >> pull up. >> to pull the band aid off and comey goes like this and recused himself from the russian stuff and jumps back in. >> hey, chris matthews, what do you think of my question? >> what's your question? >> can i take the 18-day thing on. >> yeah, here's what i think. sally yates did her job. i'm a big sally yates fan. i thought she did it right by going to mccann and saying you have a problem with flynn. i have zero problem with what she did. i don't think she leaked this to the weapon weapon, mccann talked to her and next day he
apparently looked at the evidence that gave her concern, 18 days the guy was fired and "washington post" article came out in the middle. the main thing, you can criticize the president he should have sidelined flynn, should have done it earlier, that's all fair game. >> but -- >> that's a good answer. >> that's a good answer. he always does that. >> to compare that, 18 days to like he gets something from assistant attorney general and suddenly all of the alarms go off -- it's a five-alarm fire and suddenly he has to be fired at once. >> he probably should have fired him with schumer called for it and we wouldn't be having this conversation. >> oh. >> what would we be saying if we fired him a month ago when schumer said fire the guy? >> i think we would be saying something completely - >> isn't that the point? >> thatctuay is the point, that as the russian
investigation -- as subpoenas start to go out and as a plea deal possibly is being offered for michael flynn, suddenly it's all of these things start to heat up, suddenly, oh, my god, we got to get rid of him. that is the exact question? lindsey, more importantly, why didn't he fire him right after he got elected if this was such a great concern because he's firing comey for the very reasons that he praised him during the campaign. >> all i can say is that i like comey, i think he's tried to be as fair as he knows how to be and made mistakes, it's not a misintent crime, he took on the role of being attorney general. the letter about the clinton investigation being reopened, i can understand why democrats are concerned about that. what he said about huma abedin and weiner a few days turned out not to be true. the bottom line he has the right as president to dismiss this
guy. there's a case to be made that he should be replaced. now the question is who is he going to replace him with? the russian investigation will go forward in our committee and fbi. it's a counterintelligence investigation not a criminal investigation. the day it becomes a criminal investigation, we'll talk about a specialrosecutor but that's not what they are investigating. >> senator, you believe the fbi may be better off under new leadership given all that comey has said since july. do you really believe as you said this morning, no concerns about the timing of it, a president's whose campaign is under investigation by the fbi has fired the man leading that investigation? that doesn't concern you at all? >> i'm not concerned because i know the fbi is made up of people who will do their job. i know the senate is going to move forward. i know our system is bigger than mr. comey. so no, i don't believe firing james comey is a get out of jail free card for the trump campaign, i don't believe that. >> but the fbi may be solid, a
lot of us agree on that. what about the other side of that equation, you're not upset by a president firing the man whose leading the investigation into him and his campaign? >> my democratic colleagues called for his firing. >> at the same time donald trump was praising him for courage. >> nobody is consistent when it comes to comey. >> right, all right lindsey graham. i am genuinely confused just as you were with myka's question. >> no, it was a good question. >> really. >> michael beschloss, so there you go, we're going to be very surprised, i'm very surprised by that. i thought that lindsey would take a more independent palestine as mccain has, sass has the four or five republicans that stood up to trump throughout this process. i guess we're going to see where this all lands based on where these people are from and when they have elections.
>> i think that's right but we really are dependent on them because he was saying the world doesn't begin and end with jim comey, he's righ there, but that only is true if you've got a new fbi director who is above suspicion and whom everyone thinks this is someone who is going to pursue this investigation as zellously as it's been going on. and in the absence of that, i think you really do have to get a special prosecutor, plus, we haven't even begun to talk today about the possibility of an independent 9/11 style commission to look into the investigation of what russia did in our campaign last year. >> i want to ask if you think more of the responsibility forgetting to the bottom of trump's team's ties to russias falls to journalists and journalism now that we have the head of the bureau investigating it out. >> i think that's always the case. more so this time.
at the same time, i think lindsey graham is taking a calm approach to this. let's remember the fbi under comey or under somebody new is not going to be in charge of this investigation, the attorney general sessions recused himself. so the deputy attorney general -- >> yet he signed off on a letter firing the guy running the investigation. >> a very good point. one of the many, many inconsistencies but the fbi is not in charge of this investigation. they gather facts. the criticism of comey is that he set himself up as the decider in the hillary e-mail case, which he did, but traditionally and the argument here is let's get it back to the professional prosecutors. >> but bob, when we get it to professional prosecutor s who
makes a decision whether they can prosecute a case if grand juries come up with evidence of crimes? >> allegedly and according to what they've said, the deputy attorney general -- >> the guy who just recommended firing man who's running the russian investigation -- the circle is complete here. >> but, joe, that's the problem here. the fbi is not running the investigation. the investigation is over seen by prosecutors. there are now stories that the grand juries -- they are looking at this and issuing subpoenas, that's not being done by the fbi. that's being done by prosecutors in the justice department. that's where the ball rests. now, whether it's going to be done properly, aggressively, we're going to have to see. but nicole's question is a very good one, i think the responsibility quad ruples on the part of the media to dig
into this very system attically and get answers, even lindsey graham with his kind of ratiol cool approach, things are going to be okay, but we need to answer these questions. a remarkable thing happened when the intelligence community issued that report saying russia interfered in the election and people who have read the highly classified version say the evidence is compelling 100%. who was involved in that? who knew about it? we better get answers to that. >> bob woodward and michael beschloss, thank you both. still ahead, msnbc's ari mel ber digs into the claim to treating hillary clinton unfairly and bob casey who blasted the firing as nixonian and we're moments from a photo op of russian's foreign
minister sergei laf rof who happens to be in washington today. president trump will be meeting with him this morning. it will be the highest level face to face meeting with russia of the trump presidency. we don't we let that breathe for a seconds. we'll be right back. lly aspiratd 5.0-liter v8 engine. a 10-speed direct-shift transmission. a meticulously crafted interior. all of these are feats of engineering. combining them with near-perfect weight distribution... ...is a feat of amazing. experience the first-ever 471-horsepower lexus lc 500 or the multistage hybrid lc 500h. experience amazing.
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general write in this letter that was so damning for james comey. >> you're asking all of the right questions. let's start with that point. confirmed 14 days ago and the government story, the trump administration would have us believe he shows up at doj and puts books on the shelf and looks at the computer and meets his assistant, i'm going to call for the first mid stream firing of the fbi director in american history without the conclusion of any investigation or opr, office of professional responsibility results and do that in a letter and the president will respond to me the same day and that's normal. that makes no sense. number two, to your question, what's in the letter? what we are led to believe accoing to the trump administration, at the primary reason to remove jim comey, he was too mean to hillary clinton. you don't have to be a lawyer or expert on doj policy and procedure to know that makes no sense. number three and finally, the letter says the entire goal is to restore public confidence in the doj and fbi in this process,
how do you restore confidence when you issued this three page letter/press release with material in it that is misleading about a process that everyone observed over the last year. it makes no sense in a way that calls into question mr. rosenstein's question to do his job right now to be the independent overseer of any russia probe because attorney general jeff sessions said he was recused. >> rosenstein's reasons for comey's firing, actually contradict the president's of the united states praise of comey for the same exact actions. >> bingo. they completely contradict donald trump's judgment as candidate about it and again, to go back to the attorney general, who is his boss, even though he is recused or recused while not acting in a recused manner, which itself a problem for the doj's independent but jeff sessions on the record
contemporariously when it mattered saying he agreed with the letter about t e-mails. >> said it was absolutely necessary. >> sessions said it was necessary and good in october. why is it that was good in october was bad now. what was praise worthy then is now grounds for firing? these are questions that cut to the heart not of the politics or ideology, he ran on changing things and won fair and square and can change things but these cut to at the tithe heart of wh have law and order in this country. >> they are just stupid. they come across as stupid to make -- or else they think we're stupid, to say, you know, the assistant -- what is he -- the deputy attorney general has made this recommendation and it's because of the hillary -- when you have donald trump again, we just can't say this enough, praising comey for the very
actions and now claiming to be firing comey for. how stupid do they think americans are? >> a guy in the deputy ag probably couldn't have picked out of the lineup two weeks ago before confirmed now guiding policy out of the white house to dismiss one of the top ranking officials in the country. let's go to capitol hill democratic senator bob casey of pennsylvania standing by there for us. senator, i take it you don't agree with the decision president trump made to fire director comey. what's your biggest problem with it? >> the biggest problem as i said last night, because it is nix nixonian in this sense, he opportunities if he felt strongly about comey and a lot i had trouble with as well, two time periods within which to make a decision like this, during transition, you have to ask why that wasn't a major consideration during transition if he felt so strongly, secondly, from january 20th to
march 20th, but once march 20th arrived and director comey told the world about the investigation that had been going on for months about the potential ties between the campaign and the russians and that whole line of inquiry, at that moment i think the administration forfeited their opportunity to take this kind of an action. so whatever is in this memo, which might all be true by the way in terms of what people believe about director comey, what's in that memo is all past tense and that's why you have the a circumstance here as people on the set know and joe knows as a lawyer, who have the appearance of i am propriety, all through legal ethics and judicial ethics and i think politicians even elected officials have to be cognizant that appearance of i mpropriety can dominate a circumstance and that's what's happening here. >> we haven't talked about it enough, it all chills other people inside the bureau. >> it chills -- i know this is
shocking, but just like generals and admirals who want to get under the shoulder, there are people who actually have a career that want to get ahead in the justice department and fbi. they have now been basically told you step in this president's way, you get fired. >> this is troubling in terms of the pattern, not just in terms of trump firing people who are doing oversight over him but also the pattern of when he's firing them. let's reminds people that comey was set to testify again, i want to know from the senator is that the first test of this congress? and of this senate is how quickly and whether senate leadership decides to still call comey before the senate and what are some of the most important questions forim in this moment? >> i don't think there's in question that now former director comey should be called. certainly for the intel committee, there's an intention
to do that. you're right, it is a test. i'll tell you about another test for rod rosenstein and holding it here. these are the special counsel regulations that very simple, he has the power right now, this morning, to appoint a special counsel who would be separate and apart from the justice department to at a minimum begin to finally get answers on these russian i can't questions, i think for rod rosenstein, this is a simple pass/fail, but even if you pass this test, it's not nearly enough. we need an independent commission and we also need to consider some new mechanism where a special prosecutor can be appointed. there's no -- that term doesn't exist in the law right now. the only thing we have is a justice department regulation that allows the appointment of a special counsel. i think it would be very helpful but it's not enough because there are some limitations on even that. >> senator casey, ari melber here, do you believe the
attorney general violated his pledge to recuse and if so, what do you believe the consequences should be? >> ari, i don't profess to be an expert in howecusal works and how you would apply the standard, but again, it's this appearance that someone -- the attorney general recuses and i sent a letter on march the 2nd, please recuse and also appoint special counsel. he hasn't done that. but when you participate in any way, if your name is on a memo, if you're part of the determination, i think the attorney general sessions would have been better off for himself and nation if he stayed 100 miles away from what was a very bad decision in and of itself. >> senator bob casey, thank you very much. >> ari melber, thank you as well and still ahead according to the president, washington will soon be thanking him for firing jim comey. our next guest says he agrees with the firing but won't be
offering any thanks. the always outspoken john poe dore etc. joins the conversation next. dear predictable, there's no other way to say this. it's over. i've found a permanent escape from monotony. together, we are perfectly balanced, our senses awake, our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden, but they say: if you love something... set it free. see you around, giulia ♪ "how to win at business." step one: point decisively with the arm of your glasses. abracadabra. the stage is yours. step two: choose la quinta. the only hotel where you can redeem loyalty points for a free night-instantly
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breaking news, we're able to show you secretary tillerson meeting with sergei lavrov, to exchange our views on a very broad range of topics, thank you. >> does the comey firing cast a shadow over your talks -- >> what about the investigation? >> and they are joking about it. that was secretary tillerson and the russian foreign minister sergei lavrov. >> i've got to make a nfession. >> he just made fun of of the comey -- am i wrong? >> sergei lavrov did. i actually think that that makes sense, that they would be
laughing -- >> of course, they are here to witness, america, there's the truth for you, there's the story. look at that. >> if myka will stop -- >> i'll be quiet. >> really? >> really. she had a chris matthews questions, 48 minutes. >> you guys aren't even married yet. >> i know. sergei lavrov, right, that guy he's like one of these people, he's a tough sob and i wish it was -- i've been watching this guy for years, he's a tough, tough customer. >> i thought that little look he gave andrea mitchell there, comey, what are you talking about? >> he was fired. >> but clearly -- >> in russia we do something different. >> the russians that was representative of the way the
russians field. here it is, it's manifest itself in the president of the united states -- >> in russia. >> fbi director on the orders of a deputy attorney general confirmed two weeks ago. >> one of the things that shocks me the most about this, jon, the fact that the white house had no idea that they would get blowback from it, like one report after another, there's i think there's a "washington post" report just came out and we've been hearing it for 12 hours now, they had no idea that the world would be shocked by this. >> i mean, if anything tells you that this is an amateur hour white house that has -- h brilliant feel during the campaign how to make news and create outrages but has no idea what its impact and no idea what its actions have on the general body politics, this is the proof of it. if that story is true -- >> do you think it's because trump is a want to be autocrat surrounded by people that can't tell him no?
>> no, i think this is like keystone cops slap stick bubry, no one will care, democrats and republicans don't like comey, you're right, that's right sir, absolutely. what a brilliant analysis. >> like hogan's heroes. >> right, i don't want to make that analogy -- >> or more nefarious interpretation that there's something there they want to stop the wheels on, right? >> you can do that -- you can do that better too. >> letting him continue was a bigger risk than taking the public relations hit. >> you can do it better. i mean, the classic thing would be line up injure next fbi director so that everybody who has to defend you has a talking point where they can say, that's the past. this guy is terrific, former prosecutor, he did this and did that. >> a day trader, he didn't want comey to testify later this week. >> that's a good anl gi. >> he didn't want people talking about sally yates.
this is barack obama tweet was to distract people from testimony that had happened the day or two before. >> sally yates was amazing. >> you have this amazing thing where it's this -- >> i think we should have her on the show. >> gut instinct change the story, redirect, do something different without any sense of the consequences. so he puts out that barack obama tweet that leads to this event -- >> it sounds like you're describing a mental condition. >> well, i'm not a psychiatrist so -- i'm in positive position -- >> did i say he was? it sounds like a we haef yoral issue. >> heidi -- >> not that this will shock anyone at the table, i had the advantage of being off air for 20 minutes during that presegment and they are now confirming what we know is plainly obvious, that trump was growing increasingly enraged that his white house and p.r. people and administration was unable to just make this russia
story go away. this had been brewing for a couple of weeks. >> we've been hearing this now for a couple of months. donald trump is angry that this isn't going to go away. we were saying right after the election when he was attacking the intel community, you better stop because this is going to be a 2 or 3-year russian investigation. we were saying that in november, how is there nobody around him that can say, hey, boss, you remember when i told you that you needed to irrigate the 17 kt green in jersey, i was right, you didn't listen. there's going to be an russia investigation -- >> that supposed to be an accent? >> queens ac. >> it is an accent i'm not sure -- >> jersey/queens accent. >> fair enough. here's the thing, so -- >> it's actually a dope accent, from the dope dialect. go ahead. >> thank you very much. i would say here's what i would say, this shows how he thinks as
somebody never in politics how he thinks politics in washington runs. barack obama made this go away george w. bush made this guy away and clinton made the other thing go away. why can't you make this go away? >> nothing goes away in washington. >> don't you think he made the likelihood of an independent counsel or special investigation all the likelier? in other words by acting impulsively and saying i'm going to make this go away by getting rid of comey, he made the odds greater -- >> i don't link the analogy to archibald cox, but there's one way it's similar, nixon ended up trashing his own reputation and advancing the cause of his enemies, forcing the appointment of another independent special prosecutor who was -- who was probably worse for him than
archibald cox -- >> i think he acts as a day trader and three days later the trade might kill him. >> there's another way of describing that behavior. >> you canescribe it but nobody else is following you there. >> i follow you but don't know what the condition is. >> i'll tell you what it is, it's really bad for this white house. >> that's true. >> he's uncontrollable, he's impossible. he's impulsive and he bullies and he doesn't tell the truth and doesn't care about anybody. and he doesn't care about this country. >> in the end he's the one aside from us, he's the one whose going to suffer the consequences of this. >> that's correct, it's all going to come tumbling down. >> and his party. >> that's the most important thing for republicans listening right now and trying to figure out what to do, nancy pelosi could be speaker of the house in a year and a half, ee leked speaker of the house in the year and a half if republicans don't respond to this correctly. could you -- you're in a unique
position, you're fine with the firing of comey. >> i think comey should have been fired on july 5th, 2016 when he showed immense prosecutorial indiscretion by announcing that hillary wasn't charged and yet did something wrong. >> that is a great argument, he should have been fired then. >> could see that. >> that said, how do republicans properly respond to this? >> he's walked them down a one-way -- like the marching band in animal house walked that down into the alley with the wall because if they oppose him, a lot of the republican base is going to be angry at them. if they support him and the news gets worse, then of course it is like the republicans in '74 who lost 72 seats in the house. >> thank you very much. >> up next, republican congressman charlie dent joins the conversation.
by the way, joe and i had the opportunity to join forces with a great organization last night that empowers kids and young dids from conflict regions around the world. for over 20 years, seeds of peace has been helping build up the next generation of leaders with the critical skills they need to boost social and economic and political change in their home communities. my family has been involved with the group for years and we were happy to take part in yesterday's event. thank you very much. for more information, by the way, visit seeds of peace.org. keep it right here on "morning joe."
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hosted on a very broad range of topics. thank you. >> does the comey firing cast a shadow over your talks, gentlemen? >> was he fired? you're kidding. u're kidding! >> yes, he was fired. >> i'm sorry, there is only one sergey lavrov. it's just resentment and contempt towards the rest of the world. >> that was just a couple of minutes ago at the state department. our own andrea mitchell asking the question that drew that response from the foreign minister. she joins us now. andrea, what did that look like to you, that response from the foreign minister? >> reporter: you know, you've got to love it. sergey lavrov, at least he's a foreign minister with a sense of humor. you know, he's wily, he's crafty, he's experienced. he has run circles around numbers of american secretaries of state. he's here. you can see, i think, behind me the limo. he's going to go to the white house next. obviously these are very important talks.
it's the first talks, willie, joe and mika, since they were together in moscow. that was very chilly, as you know, and tillerson said afterwards it was the lowest point in u.s./russian relations. some of us remember the cold war and it was pretty low back then. but in any case, they are trying to talk about other things besides the fact that james comey was fired and russia does clearly overshadow everything. willie? >> all right, andrea mitchell, always on the front line asking questions. thanks so much. >> all right. with us now republican congressman charlie dent of pennsylvania. also with us professor of international politics at tufts university and a regular contributor to "the washington post" daniel dresner, author of "the ideas industry." a great day to have you. congressman, let's start with you. what's your reaction to jim
comey's firing? >> well, he's a good and honorable man. he was a good man in a tough spot. i'm most concerned right now about how this firing is going to affect both the congressional investigation as well as the fin investigati -- fbi investigation. i think they owe us an explanation. very perplexing and surprising to say the least. boy, this is tough. i guess i would say it's going to be tough to resist calls for an independent investigation or a select committee at this point. i'd like to talk to some of my colleagues about this to see where they are. i have great faith in burr and warner, conway on the intelligence side is a good man. i served with him on ethics, so i have confidence in them, but it's going to be harder to resist calls for -- >> at this point, listen, i don't know how republicans don't call for that and face voters in 2018. i think it's the only way they do it. so, dan, a perfect day for you
to be here. you've written a book about how partisans and plutocrats are transforming the marketplace of ideas and you've been very concerned about donald trump and his autocratic leanings. >> yeah, it's sometng of a concern. donald trump ran for president and managed to do something which i didn't think was possible, which was he managed to get foreign policy intellectuals ranging from pretty far left to the pretty far right to agree this guy was going to be an unmitigated disaster as president based as on what he was saying and in the end it didn't matter that much. >> and you're saying how expertise is being devalued. we saw it in brexit. >> when they said i'm happy, i don't want the experts on my side. >> they're overrated. and now it's the same thing with donald trump. >> right. so there are three trends that i talk about in the book, all of which help to enable someone like donald trump to spout what he does and become president. which is, first, the erosion of trust in expertise. the fact that experts can say something and people will dismiss them no matter what. second, the rise of political
polarization. which means essentially that political ideologues on both sides want their own house intellectuals. they don't anyone in the center. and third and most important the rise of economic inequality, which means you have this new class of plutocrats that has more money than they know what to do with. they create their own intellectual salons to talk about ideas. but the ideas they're promoting tend to be ideas that sort of confirm their preconceived world views, which aren't always what the rest of the country might think. >> so, congressman, let me ask you against the backdrop of all of this, the president, the way he's conducted himself in the first 120 days. the white house said this morning on this show when we asked if the dismissal of director comey was about russia, sarah sanders said, quote, absolutely not. do you buy that this had nothing to do with the russian investigation? >> well, that's a question we're going to have to ask. russia meddled. we know that. nobody denies that.
i can't explain the timing. look, i'll be very honest with you. a lot of my democratic colleagues have wanted director comey's head on a plate. they have been hyperventilating for some time. i've witnessed this onany occasions. i sure hope the firing had nothing to do with the russian investigation. but it's pretty tough to fire the guy who's investigating your campaign. i understand it's a counterintelligence investigation, not necessarily a criminal investigation, but these are the questions we'll have to ask. >> the alternative explanation from them was they were upset with the way the hillary clinton investigation was handled. >> which of course donald trump praised. >> which he praised as recently as a week before election day. so one of those two is their explanation. which one makes the most sense to you? is it that they're upset about the way hillary clinton was handled or they're upset they were being investigated about russia? >> well, this gets into the issue of rosenstein. i understand rosenstein's rationale, he didn't like the way comey handled the clinton
investigation, but obviously president trump made statements that were quite different. so trump's rationale and rosenstein's rationale i don't think are consistent. so i think we need an explanation from the administration as to exactly why they did this and particularly now the timing. we need an explanation. >> so there's a calcification going on not only in washington, d.c. but really the political debate, the intellectual debate in this country and across the world. in part, as you're saying, it's because people are going to their own experts, they're buying their own experts. that's the same thing with the voters. they choose a tv station they want to watch that reinforces all of their pre-existing prejudices. they then get into the car and go to work and pick the talk radio station that does the same thing and then go online after work and go on facebook and go in their own communities or on twitter, their own communities, and they have feeds that reinforce all their pre-existing prejudices. how do we bre out of that?
>> it's not going to be easy. essentially, firstf all, you're going to have to have some money that actually funds the kinds of voices that represent diverse points of view. it's going to have to be attractive enough that essentially you want everyone listening to them. part of the reason conservatives watch fox news is because they know other conservatives watch fox news. so what you want to do is presumably create forms of entertainment or forms of information that everyone has to read because they know that everyone else is reading them. and to some extent that still exists. people are reading "the new york times," people are reading politico and "the washington post" because it's a great newspaper. so these things are still going on. the other thing is, unfortunately, we need a little bit of patience. you need -- you know, you need to see a sort of waning of political polarization. weirdly enough, depending upon how donald trump does over the next three or four years, that might actually happen but we don't know that. >> let's turn to health care really quickly in the minute we
have left. you voted against the bill. what happens next? >> well, the senate is going to gut this thing. they're going to gut it and may send back a bill or may not. but what they send back will be considerably different than what we sent them. bottom line is the people who were placated and appeased to get the bill out of the house will probably be nowhere to be found on the rebound. and so i think that's really the conundrum that we're in. i've seen this play call before. you appease the real hard right members, get the bill over to the senate. send it back and then maybe it's more reasonable. people vote for the bill and then those of us who vote for the bill are attacked by the folks whore sell-outs. >> while they scatter. there's no way the senate is ever going to pass a bill that cuts $800 billion in medicaid funding, is there? >> no. in fact i think they're going to listen very seriously to what the governors had to say, kasich, snyder, sandoval and hutchinson who put forward a
serious proposal on medicaid reform which wasn't considered in the house but i believe it will be considered in the senate. and the tax credits. they're going to make sure the tax credits are more generous so people who transition from medicaid onto the exchanges will be able to afford it. >> charlie dent, best, fairest guest today, thank you. >> dan, thank you for being with us. >> thank you very much. his new book "the ideas industry, how partisans and plutocrats are transforming the marketplace of ideas." that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. good morning. i'm city of new rustephanie ruh. we've got breaking news to cover. the firing and the fallout. president trump axes fbi director james comey setting off a national firestorm. >> mr. president, you are making a big mistake. >> saturday night massacre. >> comey was fired because of the russians. >> the white house in a late-night, then early mor